Sustainability is becoming increasingly important for investors, too. What things do they want to know from Baloise when it comes to this issue?
The questions are very different. If I had to name one topic that comes up very often in an ESG (economic, social and governance criteria) context, it would be the responsible investment policy in asset management. Other topics also include the strong focus on our corporate culture as well as our strategic objective of ranking among the top 5% employers in Europe. Many investors ask about diversity within the company and are interested in seeing gender balance on the Board of Directors, in management and among the workforce. In addition, however, investors are often interested in the areas in which we have incorporated sustainability criteria into our business activities and in what we are planning in terms of sustainability in the coming months.
How often does the topic of sustainability come up in discussions with investors?
That varies from conversation to conversation. On average, during a one-hour meeting, five to ten minutes are spent talking about sustainability. But we offer talks focusing purely on sustainability every autumn as part of our ESG Roadshow. These are then entirely devoted to the topics of diversity, remuneration, reducing CO2 emissions, etc.
Which aspects of corporate sustainability do investors tend to focus on?
At the moment, our risk underwriting policy is certainly a key topic. We spent last year identifying client business activities that we consider to be critical. We are entering into dialogue with these clients, and we have also imposed some exclusions. This year marked the start of a learning phase in this area, and we are applying these new principles to our existing and new business.
Do questions about our investment strategy crop up as well?
In terms of investment strategy, we are often asked about the pillars of our sustainable investment strategy, i.e. the exclusion of certain sectors and companies in our investments, the approach to integrating ESG factors and our active ownership policy, i.e. how we exercise voting rights and seek dialogue with companies on sustainability issues. Investors want to understand which criteria we apply and, in particular, why we do so.
How do investors rate us compared to our peers in this respect?
It is not easy to set yourself apart as a company and most insurers are pursuing rather similar approaches. When it comes to reducing CO2 emissions, many other insurance companies are already more specific than we are. In our underwriting policy, we rise to any challenges and face complexity head on. The response to this approach has been very positive. But what sets us apart from our peers the most is our strong focus on our culture. Thanks to the improvements Baloise has made in recent years, we often receive positive feedback. For us, sustainability is an integral part of our strategy, making it a very important part of our communication with investors and analysts as well.